Employee Financial Wellbeing: help your team build financial resilience
One in four people will experience a mental health issue of some kind each year in England according to mental health charity Mind. Employers have a duty of care to support their team’s mental health and wellbeing, and part of this care is trying to better understand the common stressors that can contribute to poor mental health.
Mental health and money problems are often inextricably linked. If your employees are experiencing financial strain such as problems with debt or paying for later life care for a relative, they are likely to experience poor mental health, with one problem feeding the other.
With financial worries impacting employing mental health it can also affect employee performance. The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute found that 67% of employees who were struggling financially reported at least one sign of poor mental health that could affect their ability to function at work, including, loss of sleep, poor concentration, and reduced motivation.
We explored this topic at our most recent Not A Red Card Forum, where experts from Mercer Marsh Benefits, Salary Finance, Gallagher, and Aon. Adam Saville, Editor of COVER magazine moderated a panel discussion on financial wellbeing for employees and businesses. We look back at some of the key points raised during this panel discussion, as well as where employers and employees can go to find out more information.
What do we mean by financial wellbeing and how has the pandemic changed the picture of it?
Money & Pensions Service define financial wellbeing as, ‘knowing that you can pay the bills today, can deal with the unexpected, and are on track for a healthy financial future.’
During the panel discussion Francis Goss, Director for Organisational Wellbeing at Gallagher, highlighted this even further by saying, “We like to distil it down into three things – control over money, capacity, and confidence. During the pandemic, people’s ability to control their money, their capacity to budget each day and for the future, and their level of confidence in managing money has taken a huge hit and continues to do so.”
Gallagher has seen a surge in demand for financial wellbeing solutions for employees, as well as a demand in helping people to increase their knowledge on issues like debt, savings, and the government support in place.
Jason Butler, Head of Financial Education and Salary Finance, shared his views about how the pandemic has shifted people’s perception of financial wellbeing: “once you got over the initial shock of the pandemic, what’s happened is there’s more awareness of how fragile some people’s situations are. Whilst there is a significant number of people who are financially vulnerable, there’s a significant who aren’t ultra-vulnerable that are starting to become a lot more aware, and open to become engaged with money in a way that’s not lecturing them, or making them feel stupid.”
How can employers make sure to provide support for all types of employees?
The panel went on to discuss the importance of taking a holistic approach to financial wellbeing. Charles Alberts, Head of Health Management at Aon, suggested to be open minded: “don’t assume people’s situation. Even if someone in your organisation is a high earner, they might have other financial strains at home, there’s a vast number of dynamics at play. People have different financial pressures at different stages of their career.”
An effective way to find out what your employees financial stresses are is to talk to them to find out what their personal situation is. By understanding their specific issues, you can build a picture of understanding what support they would find useful. This can be done through traditional ways such as surveys and focus groups.
The panel all agreed regardless of how much you earn, financial wellbeing affects everybody. Challenges happen in people’s lives, and employers need to look to support their people to overcome these adversities, and to help them control the here and now.
What support is available to help employers and employees build financial resilience
There are a lot of ways in which employers can begin helping their employees with their financial wellbeing. A great place to start is having open conversations with your team about financial health, what it is, what their own pressures are, which can give you a good benchmark of how you can develop your support.
Employee Assistance Programme support: We offer a telephone and online Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) service with all of our products. It is a valuable benefit provided at no extra cost, for you and your employees if you take out any of our group protection products. Our EAP can provide support to your employees on a variety of issues including troubles at home, financial strife or mental health issues. Our EAP is ready to help when your employees need us. Find out more how we can help to support the wellbeing of your business, here.
 Overstretched, Overdrawn, Underserved: Financial difficulty and mental health at work, Katie Evans, Merlyn Holkar, Nic Murray, Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, 2017